Image Tips

Business casual dress code


I’m starting a new job in August. The dress code is business casual. Are tennis shoes considered appropriate?

Rob, Encinitas


Unless you are a professional skateboarder, basketball player, or work in a medical setting, tennis shoes are not appropriate work attire. Purchase a comfortable leather black-soled shoe in a solid color. Shoes and glasses define a man’s wardrobe. Have you ever heard the phrase, “you can tell a man by his shoes”? Shoes and glasses are the investment items to buy high-end because it is very obvious if they are inexpensive. These are also the areas that you can most easily define your style and make your image count. A well-dressed man wears tennis shoes only when travelling to and from the gym. When dressing, try to match socks with trouser color or a shade darker and never wear white socks with dress shoes.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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What to Wear with Boots


I would like to buy some boots this season. Should I buy them short or tall? I also have a hard time deciding what to wear with my boots once I have them. Are there any standard rules of thumb to follow?

Paula, Encinitas


Boots can present a challenge when you are deciding what to wear. One safe choice is to wear longer skirts or slacks with short ankle boots. Short boots and short skirts went out with Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ image but are now back in style. Styles come and go and the thing to really think about is what works with your body shape and size.

If you only wish to purchase only one pair this season, buy tall boots. They are more versatile and will go with almost any length of skirt or dress or pants.


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How to Choose The Right Boots For Your Figure and Style

It’s that time of the year where we get to begin wearing sweaters and boots again. Yay! For me, this is the only consolation about the weather getting cooler and the darkness coming earlier.

With that said, many of us are scrambling to get a new pair of boots to support us through the cooler months. The selection is amazing right now, which is good, but it can also be very confusing.

So, my clients ask this question every year. How do I choose the right boot to look fabulous, be comfortable and also to carry me through the season? My number one rule for all clothing and accessories is that they should be flattering. SO now you may ask, how do I know what style is flattering for me?

(not flattering)

Choose Your Style Wisely: Whatever style boots you choose, you need to make sure that they are in proportion to your body shape and size. They don’t have to be in classic proportion, but they should add positive, not negative lines to your overall look.

For instance, short boots that fall just under an overlarge calf could highlight the heft of the leg. Stiletto-heeled boots on a very short or heavy woman could look out of balance. A big thick heavy heel will look very out of proportion on a petite frame.

If you have skinny legs, don’t wear baggy boots. Tall boots that are too wide on a skinny leg could make for a bottom heavy look. There should be no more than ½ inch between the top of boot and your leg.

If you are short, keep your hose the same color as your boot to look taller and with a longer leg line. Also, remember that the lighter the color of your boot, the shorter your leg will appear, so choose navy, black, dark brown etc.

So choose with thought. Always think of your entire look – don’t buy a pair of boots just because they’re gorgeous and leather is scrumptious. The boot has to look good on your leg and work with your overall wardrobe.

With those caveats in mind, here are a few ways to wear various styles of boots this season:

Tall Boots: If you only have enough room in your budget or your closet for one pair of boots, invest in slim knee-high boots. This style is a classic and timeless staple.

Wear tall boots with long, short, or above-the-knee length skirts. You can also wear them tucked into skinny jeans. All boots look best with tights or opaque hose.

If you are wearing tall boots with a skirt, make sure the skirt shape is compatible with boots. If your skirt is billowy, wear formfitting boots. Your overall look will also benefit if your hemline ends just over the top of your boots. If your skirt is tight, you can get away with larger boots and your hem should be a few inches between your boot top and your skirt.

If you have large muscular calves, never fear. Many of my clients swear that they cannot find tall boots to fit, but I always can find at least one pair that works for them. Many brands now carry fuller calf widths and there are many that also have elasticized back panels that expand with your calf. As I mentioned earlier, make sure there is no leg bulge sticking out of the top.

Short Ankle-Boots: These are all the rage this year and work great with pants, skirts and dresses. Short boots with flat-heels can also look adorable with sporty skirts and fun socks or tights.

Shooties: Even more popular this season is a boot with an even lower cut called the “shootie.” Many shooties have open toes, which make them a bit more complicated to coordinate. (See peep toe notes below)

Over the Knee Boots: Boots that come over the knee are a risky investment. This style is very hard to coordinate in most outfits. They are also very difficult to look good in unless you’re a long and lean model type.

Midcalf Boots: These work well with a short skirt and opaque tights or dark hose. These also work under a long skirt, again with opaque tights. A skirt that meets the boot top exactly will probably look a little odd. Better the skirt should be longer or shorter than the boot. Slouchy mid calf boots look great with tights and a skirt or with tucked in jeans.

Peep Toe Boots: The smaller the peep, the easier they are to wear. Make sure that you wear opaque tights. Sheer does not work and will date your look immediately. If you decide to go bare foot, keep your manicure fresh and only use this look if your outfit is slender and your hem is high. The bare legged shootie looks works best for the under 30. If you do wear peep toes with jeans, make sure that you add a lightweight sock over your tights so that it does not look like you are wearing hose under your jeans. Avoid heavyweight fabrics for your socks.

Equestrian Boots: This style works well with almost anything this season. If they have super chunky heels, they will work best with extra long flowy skirts. Typically flat equestrian boots can be a bit less fitted to allow for tucking in your jeans.

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Choosing a power tie

Dear Kathi,

My business partners make fun of my crazy ties with wild patterns like
chile peppers and pictures of Mickey Mouse. I could really use some help
finding that ultimate power tie.

Bob V. Carlsbad


There is a reason that these types of ties are called novelty ties. They are not to be taken seriously and in my opinion should not be given or worn. I’m glad to hear that you are ready to reform. Power ties are easy to buy. Start your search looking for solid colors. Red is the penultimate power tie color. Gold is the second runner up. Focus your attention on finding ties with discreet patterns and a subtle sheen. Please refrain from wearing shiny ties with large patterns or images. Power is subtle and understated. The strength of a power tie is reflected in it’s refined patterning. Pinstripes are a bit more difficult. Focus on solid colors (preferably red, gold, yellow or silver) and you will be on the right track.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Dressing A Full Figure Without Small Waistline

Dear Kathi,

I am full figured with no waistline. What clothes should I buy?

Jessie, Waitress


Avoid wear baggy shirts that fall straight from your bustline to your hips. This practice makes your entire body look as wide as your chest. Buying shirts with a snug fit and princess seam under the chest is a good practice. Shirts that fit snug at your waist with tailored lines will accentuate your waist and draw attention to your lower areas. Keep suit coats long and make sure they hit below your hips, ending at the widest part of your bottom, not above it. This will give the appearance of a longer torso and minimize your hips. Suit coats with three – four buttons will minimize the bustline. Another important item to consider is your slacks. Wear slacks with wide legs that fall away from your hips. This will help you avoid the upside-down “V” look and you will elongate your torso at the same time.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing sticky notes


Our house is being overrun by sticky notes. I’ve tried to teach my kids and wife not to use them for everything but they won’t listen to me. I thought perhaps there are some standard rules to help decide when to use sticky notes. Please help my family get un-stuck.

Kent, Rancho Santa Fe


Here are a few tried and true sticky note guidelines.
Don’t use sticky notes:

•To record phone messages, they tend to fly away. Use a spiral notebook kept by the phone for all messages.

•To label computer discs. They get jammed into your hard drive or lost before you have a chance to use them.

•To record reminders of daily activities or projects. Have each family member maintain their own to-do list that is always kept in the same spot.
Do use sticky notes:

•To compile quick lists, such as groceries or errands which can be placed temporarily on your to-do list.

•For writing positive affirmations to each other.

•To create spontaneous hide-and-seek games for holidays, birthdays, etc.

• To attach to the back of a document to be faxed with the fax number noted so you won’t have to look up the number again.

• As a repetitive messaging system. Pre-write common messages such as, “at yoga, be home at 6 pm,” “walking the dog,” or “pick up the drycleaning.” Keep these notes on the inside of a cabinet door for easy access.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Corporate image

Hi Kathi,

I am 26 and have been in a corporate job for over two years. I feel ready to apply for a managerial position with my company. I know that I need to dress more “corporate” and would like to hear your suggestions regarding what clothing I should buy.

Lindsay, Oceanside


A mix-and-match wardrobe of separates, suits and two-piece dresses will provide the most mileage as you work your way up the corporate ladder.
To assemble a professional wardrobe, look for power colors – dark and rich. Avoid pastels, subdued and lighter colors.
Make sure to invest in quality fabrics and clothing with clean simple lines. These standards make shopping more time consuming but will always pay off in terms of fashion and durability.

Wear natural fabrics combined with non-trendy accessories. Your accessories should include classic leather handbags, briefcases and shoes.

Overall, go for an uncluttered look. This means simplicity and sophistication in design and lines, fabric and print. Keep your hair and makeup simple and understated. Let your hardwork and dedication become the focus at your workplace and you will attract your promotion.
Remember in the corporate world your wardrobe is more than a fashion statement. If you dress like a manager the people who do the promoting will have an easier time viewing you as a manager. If you still dress like Gidget you will more than likely be rewarded with a challenging career in the mailroom.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Clothes shopping on a budget

Dear Kathi,

I’m on a tight budget and really want to buy some new clothes. Do you have any advice to help me make the right choices?

Erika, Cardiff


Buy clothing that will span all seasons — like wool crepe or matte jersey. Try to plan your wardrobe around three neutral colors. Choose between khaki, navy, brown, black, white or creme. Buy more solids than prints – you won’t get tired of them as quickly.
Everything you buy should flatter your figure. This means it not only plays up your best features but also hides what’s not perfect. Darker colors and simple cuts (a sheath, an A-line) are the most flattering.

Focus on general trends. You will wear these items longer. They are a better fashion bet and can be found at all price points. Fads always have a shorter life span than trends.

Remember that buying inexpensive items just because they are inexpensive is almost always a bad investment. If you can’t afford to buy the item that you really want, wait awhile. Remix existing clothes or alter your hair, makeup or accessories to achieve a new look.

Don’t choose buying the cashmere sweater over making the car payment. Be responsible and always shop with your budget in mind.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Lessons from My Pedestal Sink and My Cosmetics Collection

After moving into our new home, I discovered very quickly that I had to downsize my makeup collection. My husband and I now share an in the wall medicine cabinet with two doors above one lone pedestal sink.

Even though I frequently advise my clients to add more storage to their bathroom when faced with this situation, I myself did not want to add more cabinets to our bathroom because I was enjoying it’s spaciousness.

So, before I made any decision about what to do, I decided to only put into my side of the cabinet, the makeup and skin care that I use on a daily basis. The rest I left in the plastic shoebox that I had moved in with.

I am personally amazed to report: I have only pulled that box out twice in 6 months! Once for false eyelashes (yes, for a special event) and the other to retrieve my red lipstick which I obviously seldom, if ever, wear.

The moral to this story is this – we all need far less makeup and skin care than we own. I love the fact that all of my stuff fits into one tiny cabinet and yes, I am proud of it too!

This is your challenge should you decide to accept it: go to your makeup drawer or drawers (I know who you are out there!) and remove every product that you dont use regularly. Stash it away out of sight and see if you ever go back to search for something in it. Your rewards will be two-fold.

1. You will be able to find everything you need from now on with very little effort because there will no be any clutter.

2. You will spend much less money on makeup and skin care and what you do decide to purchase can probably be of much higher quality because you are spending less money on trivial spur of the moment purchases.

So this is the lesson from my new bathroom: Pedestal Sink = More Simplified Life



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Daily tip #6: Ditch the “skinny” clothes

Clutter happens when your life changes and you are not really ready for it. Holding onto the past is a big clutter culprit. Not only might your closet be dysfunctional, it can squelch your spirit.

For example, If your body has changed and you are still holding onto your “skinny” clothes, your closet is probably dysfunctional and bulging at the seams. 2013 is time to let those old skinny clothes go.

Clothes that are too small and still hanging around in your closet can cause anxiety, depression and feelings of low self esteem. If you truly want to get back into your skinny clothes, ditch all of the old ones except maybe your favorite pair of jeans (to use as a litmus test) and keep only the clothes that fit you now in your closet. Try it! wearing clothes that fit perfectly, no matter what your size is now, boosts your self esteem and happiness factor which, in turn, promotes greater will power to get back down to your ” skinny” size if you decide later on that it really is still important!

Ok, so now I know what might be going through your head as you read this “what if I do lose the weight and then have nothing to wear”. What about all of the money I will be wasting? Think about it, if and when you do get down to your old skinny size, do you really want to pull out those old clothes as your reward? Probably not, you will want to celebrate your new slim self with new clothes. Right? So go ahead, chuck the old clothes that no longer fit your body, undersized or oversize, they just don’t deserve any space within your closet.

Click here for more tips on shopping for your size…

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